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K. Eason: On Writing Tension in Science Fiction/Fantasy

Author K. Eason discusses the process of condensing two book ideas into one with her new science fiction/fantasy novel, Nightwatch Over Windscar.

K. Eason lives with her husband and a trio of disreputable cats in Southern California, where she teaches first-year college students about zombies and food (not at the same time!). Her short fiction has appeared in Cabinet-des-Fées, Postcards from Hell: The First Thirteen, Jabberwocky 4, Crossed Genres, Kaleidotrope, Ink: Queer Sci Fi Anthology, and Shapers of Worlds: Volume III.

She has written the On the Bones of Gods trilogy, The Thorne Chronicles, and The Weep duology, the second book of which, Nightwatch Over Windscar, is forthcoming from DAW Books in November 2022. When she's not writing or commenting on essays, she's probably playing D&D. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

K. Eason: On Writing Tension in Science Fiction & Fantasy

K. Eason

In this post K. discusses the process of condensing two book ideas into one with her new science fiction/fantasy novel, Nightwatch Over Windscar,

Name: K. Eason
Literary agent: Lisa Rodgers with JABberwocky Literary Agency
Book title: Nightwatch Over Windscar
Publisher: DAW/Astra
Release date: November 8, 2022
Genre/category: SFF
Previous titles: Enemy, Outlaw, Ally, How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge, Nightwatch on the Hinterlands
Elevator pitch for the book: A sequel to Nightwatch on the Hinterlands, Nightwatch Over Windscar follows the templar Iari and the vakari arithmancer Gaer as they pursue the saboteurs trying to destroy the Confederation, an uneasy alliance between their nations. But when when their search leads into an ancient labyrinth, they find old magic and new monsters that threaten their lives, their friendship, and the Confederation itself.

K. Eason: On Writing Tension in Science Fiction & Fantasy

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What prompted you to write this book?

I had always wanted to write more of Iari and Gaer's story after Nightwatch on the Hinterlands. I liked the tension between them—personal, political, idealistic—and how their friendship developed anyway. I wanted to test their loyalties, not only to each other, but to the institutions and ideas on which they based their identities.

In both books, there are extraplanar monsters—obviously antagonists! But the politics and prejudices of the institutions arrayed against those monsters can be just as, well, monstrous. I wanted to delve into that a little more in Windscar—the tension between intent and effect, diverging goals, the fragility of alliances and friendships, what happens when loyalties conflict.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

I had ideas for Windscar percolating for about a year before the offer came from my publisher to write it. A good thing, as it turned out, because due dates and timelines needed me to make the book happen in something like nine months.

The idea absolutely changed—originally I had imagined two books, and I had outlines for both. I had to condense those two plots into one, and then write the whole thing.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

The pandemic made the whole publishing process a little more fraught, but honestly DAW is great at supporting its authors, even when DAW itself changed hands, from PRH to Astra, partway through the process. The editorial staff remained the same, which made processing the book itself seamless, and the new publicity team at Astra has been welcoming and enthusiastic.

K. Eason: On Writing Tension in Science Fiction/Fantasy

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Major surprises. So, I had those two outlines, right? I combined them, and it looked great on paper. And then I wrote the book, following the outline, and it was like frozen peanut butter.

I was moving characters where I needed them to go in the story, not where they had any reason to be. I ended up finishing the zero draft, throwing away the back third or so, and redrafting. In so doing I cut out a lot of the front end.

And then my agent did her read-through, and suggested I add another 15,000 (she was right) so I did. I felt like I had two zero-drafts.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

A few heart-hitching moments. Discomfort. But also just fun, because I love Gaer and Iari and their dynamic.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Listen to your characters.

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